An aide to President Amin Gemayel who specialized in Syrian-Lebanese relations was kidnaped at gunpoint by nine men in Muslim West Beirut today and driven away in the assailants' car, authorities said.
Jean Obeid, a senior aide to the Maronite Catholic president who often ventured into anarchy-plagued West Beirut for talks with Muslim leaders, was abducted after a meeting with Lebanese House Speaker Hussein Husseini at a waterfront hotel, Christian radio reports said.
Christian-run Voice of Lebanon, the radio station of Gemayel's Christian Falange Party, reported that "gunmen intercepted Obeid's car and kidnaped him. They drove away with Obeid to an unknown destination."
Release of Captives Sought
Another Christian-run radio station, the Voice of Free Lebanon, said nine gunmen took part in the kidnaping, opening fire at Obeid's car and wounding his driver.
A few hours later, a man claiming to speak for the Islamic Jihad called two local radio stations to claim responsibility and link Obeid's survival to its demands that the Christian Lebanese Forces militia free its Muslim captives by midnight.
"In the name of the Almighty . . . he (Obeid) will not be released unless all Muslim detainees in the jails of the Falangist forces and their followers in East Beirut are freed," the caller said.
He set a midnight deadline for the Christian militias to meet the demands, "after which Obeid's life will be in danger."
The caller said Islamic Jihad, which also has claimed the kidnapings of Americans Terry Anderson and Thomas Sutherland, would send a picture of Obeid with a detailed statement later to Beirut newspapers--in line with Islamic Jihad's previous practices.